Posted Oct 24 2016
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Ouija Origin Of Evil - This Movie Rocks Across The Board

Dir: Mike Flanagan

Starring Elizabeth Reaser, Henry Thomas, Annalise Basso, Lulu Wilson, Doug Jones

“Something is wrong with Doris!”  And that something almost immediately puts young Wilson’s psychic child, right up there in the pantheon of creepy on-screen kids. Flanagan moves from the optical trickery of Oculus, to the follow up but sort of prequel (an oxymoron but we know you get it) to Ouija. And delivers a much more effective and scrary film than last time around – in both cases.

Relocating to 1967, we begin with Reaser’s mother, who holds bogus séances with the aid of her two young daughters, nine year old Doris, and difficult teen Lina (Basso.) When a Ouija board is added to their list of props though, things start to get out of hand, with the younger child seeming to develop genuine abilities. She thinks she in touch with her recently deceased dad. But it’s not him…it’s Doug Jones doing another of his terrifying skinny creature things.

Then Elliot from ET shows up, stepping in for Father Merrin (there’s one very deliberate visual nod as he arrives at the house) and we’re off to the races. Whilst this clearly falls into the Blumhouse generic pattern of “here comes the jump” Flanagan shows a lot more flair here. First, there’s a degree of humour, secondly when it gets scary, he knows how to get seriously scary. As the film develops, it hits an almost unrelenting pace that is typified by things we may well recognise but haven’t necessarily seem lately. (As a filmmaker, he clearly knows his horror history, and isn’t shy about dropping in the odd reference here and there.)

Doris is the standout however, a very strong performance from Wilson, combined with things you just don’t want to see a small child doing. You will jump, you may well scream, you will certainly remember that kid with the white eyes and the terrifying voice scurrying along the walls. At the screening we attended, someone actually cried out “I want to go home mummy” – and we don’t think they were with their mum.

In a jaded age of production line horror movies with what often feels like one singular style, it’s nice to see something that tries a different tack and, indeed, a different attack. Smart, unexpected and likely to seep into your dreams.

And to think it’s all based on a Hasbro board game – you know, for kids!

 

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